Upgrading from Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to Galaxy S10: A personal account

Read about one system administrator's experience upgrading his smartphone and the issues that followed.

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For three years or so I carried around the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (Figure A) as part of a Sprint family plan that I shared with my wife and two older kids. The plan itself allowed 6 Gb of data shared among the four of us. The phone ran Android 8 and had a 5.5-inch screen with 1440x2560 resolution, the Snapdragon 820 / Exynos 8890 CPU, 4 Gb of RAM, and 32 Gb internal storage.


Figure A: My current Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

However, I was becoming tired of my phone--we´d been together too long.

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S10: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The problems

The Galaxy S7 Edge had become slow and buggy. Battery consumption was another significant issue--it ran down within eight hours, sometimes sooner with heavy usage such as taking pictures at an outdoor concert. I had to constantly charge it either in my car or at my desk.

Trying to quickly access the camera app to take an action shot of something like a hawk flying by often failed, causing me to miss the picture. Transferring photos off the camera onto my computer via a USB cable was often problematic; the phone and the micro-SD card upon which I stored photos was accessible when I connected the device to my Windows 7 system, but file transfers hung or failed more often than not. I worked around this by setting up my Dropbox account to auto-sync my photos to my computer via the app, not with manual sync.

Mobile data service seemed sporadic, with many "dead spots" where I received no coverage, even in my neighborhood or inside buildings (although, this may be a carrier issue). SMS texting itself quit on me for a couple of weeks, where texts didn't arrive at all or else arrived hours later.

I also found the screen keyboard experience horrible. It lacked the proper sensitivity and caused me to produce many typos, which needed to be corrected. Yes, using voice controls is an option but not an especially viable one in open space environments, meetings, conference calls, and so forth.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

In addition, I endured some hardware challenges over the course of my phone ownership, which included three cracked screens, which I paid to replace. After the third occasion I noticed the rear-facing camera was blurry and troubleshot the issue for a couple of hours before I took it to the Sprint store where they discovered I had to log into one of their Sprint apps with my account for the camera to work properly, which was an annoying revelation (although the tech was quite friendly and helpful about it).

Further, 6 Gb of data among four active phone users isn't much, and as my wife relies heavily on Google Maps for her job we consistently exceeded our data limit well before the monthly service period ended. I stubbornly refused to buy a larger data plan, reasoning that we could somehow ratio out the data, but we only had half-hearted success at that. We often found our bandwidth throttled back by Sprint as a result of our excessive data consumption.

Finally, I found it cumbersome to pop out the micro-SD card via the tiny tray, which was inserted at the top of the phone, as shown in the picture below (Figure B):


Figure B: SD card/micro-SD card tray.

Image: www.mobilefun.co.uk

Actually being able to use the little key tool to extract the tray was like refueling a jet in midair--it routinely took me several tries before I got it right. The fact I needed to peel off the Otterbox case protecting my phone was also tricky, as the phone seemed so fragile I didn't want to accidentally break the screen (again).

My phone did have one thing going for it, however: It was paid off, and therefore mine.

SEE: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)

The upgrade

My wife and I explored the concept of switching carriers from Sprint to Verizon Wireless and upgrading my phone from the S7 Galaxy Edge to the S10. Last Friday we took the plunge and went to the Verizon Wireless store at Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH.

The tech we worked with (Denise) was very helpful and took care of all the back-end details for us. (She even gave us her cell if anything went wrong.) We opted for the phone upgrade ($899 for the S10, which I selected in white--the color didn't matter much to me as I bought a matching Otterbox case to go with it). We switched to an unlimited data plan--no more bandwidth throttling (or worse, household finger-pointing over who used all the data).

Just like no self-respective auto mechanic would allow someone else to fix his car, I told Denise I would handle the upgrade of my old phone to my new one, as well as replace my wife and children's SIM cards in their existing iPhones with the new ones from Verizon Wireless.

The iPhone SIM card replacements were flawless for all three phones, and they got right on the Verizon mobile network. Getting my new phone up to speed took a bit more work. I powered it on in the morning, and it went right to the activation screen, so I eagerly proceeded with the attempt. However, it couldn't actually activate and after numerous attempts to troubleshoot the problem I realized I had to create my Verizon Account online, then the activation proceeded. That probably would have been a good thing to know about in advance, but perhaps that detail got lost in the shuffle.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

Worse, I found out my Verizon Wireless account/plan was somehow separate from my wife's family plan, which if left undiscovered would cost us more money--it took her two hours to get this sorted out to make us both co-owners of the plan.

Moving along, I put the micro-SD card from my S7 Edge into the S10 to access my music, books, and videos. Then I used the Samsung Smart Switch to transfer all of my apps/settings. This entailed installing the app on both the old and new phones. I was pleased with the results; Smart Switch worked flawlessly to transfer all of my material via a wireless connection, completing in about thirty minutes.

It wasn't an entirely seamless process--I had to log into all of my accounts and re-enact a few settings, such as configuring Dropbox to auto-upload my camera photos. I needed a new activation code for my "Blackberry for Work" app upon which I can send and receive my work email. I also had to re-set my "weather" widget and pair my new phone with my car via Bluetooth, but none of these manual steps were a big deal. The convenience provided by this automated app/data transfer literally saved me hours worth of work.

The results

I was happy with the outcome of the upgrade, and as you can see from my home screen (Figure C), it's not much different than the S7 Edge. It weighs about the same and has similar screen dimensions.


Figure C: My new Samsung Galaxy S10.

The S10 runs Android 9 and features an Octa-core CPU chipset. The 8 Gb of RAM provided is double that of the S7: 8GB and internal storage offers 128 of space, meaning 192 Gb total with the micro-SD card I transferred over.

The OS is noticeably speedier, and there are no more app hangs or delays. Accessing settings yields the same logical interface as before, and other than replacing the physical back button with a virtual one, I see very little difference. With the absence of the physical back button to take screenshots I now need to press Power-Volume Down simultaneously rather than the Power-Back buttons; again no biggie.

The S10 camera is very responsive with great resolution and detail so crisp, in fact, that I no longer need to scan in documents via my HP scanner; I can take a photo of any sheet of paper and the resulting image is crystal clear.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A guide for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Unmet expectations

I appreciate the extra storage. However, some of the similarities between the new phone and the old proved detrimental or at least involved unmet expectations.

For starters, the battery life really isn't much improved. The battery usage function on the phone tells me it's good for about one day and ten hours on a full charge at my current power settings (the standard defaults).

The S10 keyboard is not any more intuitive--I have the same difficulties typing on it as on the S7. I'm also not thrilled to extract the same little top-side tray containing the sim card and micro-SD card if I want to pull either out; it's just as tedious as before. However, file transfers to and from the phone are much speedier via the USB cable, so I don't anticipate dealing with this process often.

Speaking of USB cables, I discovered the S10 uses a new kind of connector (C type). I needed to replace all my of existing USB chargers/data cables with new ones (the S10 comes with a single charger and cable, but I like to have multiple options depending on my location) which cost about $30/ Fortunately, my office S7 wireless charging station works just as well with the S10.

You have to appreciate the irony, however. I spent years complaining about "one-way" USB connectors and advocating vendors develop a plug, which works no matter which way you connect it. Well, I got my wish...

Key takeaways

  • No learning curve in the upgrade
  • The physical back button is now a virtual button
  • Smart Switch is a great option for a seamless phone transition
  • Allot about one hour for the process
  • Always read the documents and know the details of your plan/agreement
  • Set up your online account with your vendor before you start the upgrade
  • Be prepared to replace any peripheral equipment (like chargers/cables)

Also see